Snowboard Skills Terminology

Snowboard Skills Terminology and Vocabulary, will take you through a brief glossary of the basic skills and terms you may encounter while learning to ride a snowboard.

  • Line - Refers to the path chosen by the rider down the hill. On rollers and varying terrain, line choice can add to or work against the riders flow down the hill. Through the trees, towards a jump or quarter pipe, in the halfpipe, or onto a rail, the riders line choice effects smooth and efficient execution of snowboarding skills.

  • Fall-Line - Refers to the direction that gravity would take a rider or any other object down a pitch or grade. In the most basic way to look at it, if you made a snowball and rolled it down the hill, it would follow the fall-line.

  • Skid Turn - A skid turn is a basic turn where during the turn the board is slipping or sliding slightly sideways through out the arc of the turn.

  • Carve - A carve is a turning movement where the rider flexes the board and rides the side-cut shape of the board through the turn. In a carved turn, the edge on the tail of the board will cross over the exact same spot on the snow. The track looks like a perfect slice in the snow.

  • Slash - A slash is a powerful movement where the rider starts the turn with a leading movement, then counter-rotating in a quick “slashing” movement to throw the tail of the board outward away from the direction of travel. The slashing movement throws snow away from the turn and has roots in surfing. Slashing is a soulful way to add style and personal flare to your riding. A rider might slash either direction.

  • Free-ride - Describes the activity of riding from the heart. A soulful approach to riding trees, powder, groomed trails, the park and pipe or just exploring the mountain are all ways to free-ride.

  • Cross Over - A turn where the rider executes the turn by smoothly shifting upper body weight from edge to edge, crossing over the snowboard at the turn initiation. The cross over turn results in a bigger, longer turn, with a large radius shape. The cross over is used commonly in Boarder Cross, Giant Slalom racing or open hill free-riding.

  • Cross Under - A turn where the riders upper body stays relatively still while the knees, ankles and board cross under the still upper body to execute the turn. The cross under turn results in a tighter, smaller turn that is quick, edge to edge and useful in riding trees, bumps or in racing a Slalom course.

  • Ollie - Snowboard Skills Terminology - While traveling forward, an Ollie is a jumping movement that utilizes a series of movements that lead to the rider popping into the air off of the tail of the board.

  • Nollie - Snowboard Skills Terminology - While traveling forward, similar to the Ollie, the Nollie is a series of movements that lead to the rider popping into the air off of the nose of the board.

  • Pop - Snowboard Skills Terminology - The explosive upward burst associated with an ollie or a jump into a trick or freestle maneuver. Sometimes, sadly, the term pop is related to the poping feeling that you may experience in a knee or other joint when you land or crash bad and spain a muscle or ligament. Booooo! To avoid that, stretch a lot!!

  • Fakie Riding - Snowboard Skills Terminology - Riding backwards. For example, “He did a 180 and landed fakie.”

  • Switch - Snowboard Skills Terminology - Also riding backwards. The switch term is used more often than fakie in describing tricks that are executed from a backwards position. For example, “He did a switch backside 360.”

  • Style - Intangible in nature, style is a cornerstone of the snowboarding sport. In these highly individual sports including surfing, skateboarding, wakeboarding, etc., Style is the overall appearance of a riders personal rhythm and flow while they ride. It can also apply to the riders’ choice of clothing and set up on the board. Things like stance width, stance angles, board type and shape can all add to the overall feeling of a riders’ style.

  • Flexion - Basic body movement, where your center of mass moves towards the ground and into a low range or flexed position. Flexion occurs by bending in the ankles, knees and hips down towards a squatting position. It is important for good riding that you down arch your back and let your chest drop towards your toes, but keep your chest and eyes up while you and in the flexion movement.

  • Extension – Basic body movement, where your center of mass moves away from the ground and into a high range or taller position. Extension occurs by standing up, or extending through the ankles, knee and hips in the direction of your upper range.

  • Mid-Range - Snowboard Skills Terminology – Stance position in the middle ground, between Flexion and Extension. It is a half squat. Legs are bent and loaded in a powerful position where you can either move in an extension or flexion movement. The mid-range requires a fair amount of energy to stand in, but far as body position goes, it is the source of good snowboarding.

  • Pumping - Snowboard Skills Terminology - Powerful movement involving starting in a low or flexed body position, then extending through and out of a turn or down the back side of any suddenly increased pitch in the terrain. Most often, the purpose of pumping is to generate speed or momentum by using body movement over the snowboard while turning or riding through rolling terrain. Turning pumps can be used is Racing, Boarder Cross or in dropping into a Halfpipe. Pumping terrain to accelerate can happen almost anywhere there are bumps or rolling shape in the hill to pump.

  • Absorbing - Snowboard Skills Terminology - Powerful movement involving starting in a tall or extended position, then flexing through a turn, or on the up side of a suddenly decreased pitch in the terrain. Sometime used to control speed, it is more commonly the setup for a pumping motion. Like, while riding a set of rollers and trying to pump for speed. The riders’ upper body will stay fairly still while the lower body works to absorb, pump, absorb, pump. Absorbing can also be used to control jump trajectory, in cases where the rider does not want to go to high off of a jump. This is the case in Boarder Cross, where the goal is not to go big, but to go down the hill as fast as possible.

  • Fore & Aft - Snowboard Skills Terminology – Fore is the front or downhill part of the snowboard while aft is the back or uphill part of the snowboard as it travels downhill. I could say tip and tail, but I don’t want to confuse you if you were going switch. Basic Body Movement which involves shifting the center of mass over the snowboard, forward and backward from tip to tail, or vice versa.

  • Neutral Position - Snowboard Skills Terminology – Powerful and balanced riding position that is the neutral position for all riding. However, there are 2 neutral positions depending on if you’re riding your normal direction or switch. For most normal riding, the neutral position should include being in your mid range, with your shoulders rotated in the direction of travel between 15 and 45 degrees across the board, arms relaxed, slightly bent at the elbow with hands out to the sides, front hand over the nose and back hand over the toes of your back foot. Riding switch, the neutral position is essentially a mirrored position in the new direction of travel.

  • Leading - Snowboard Skills Terminology – Basic body movement where the upper body including head, arms and shoulders leads the lower body through a rotational movement such as turning, carving or spinning.

  • Counter Rotating - Snowboard Skills Terminology – Basic body movement where the upper body rotates in the opposite direction of the board during a rotational movement. In the beginner stages, counter-rotating can be used to kick the snowboard back and forth from skid turn to skid turn. As the rider progresses, they will move away from counter-rotating turn initiation towards a turn initiation with a leading rotational movement. Counter-rotation also includes movement within a turn such as a slash, or during airtime in the case of a tweak of a grab or trick.

  • Angulation - Snowboard Skills Terminology – Utilizing body position involving the line from the head to the hips, in relation to the line from the hips through the feet to increase edge pressure over the board, allowing for a more powerful carve.


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